Batman #9 Review

batman-9-cover

After taking part in Steve Orlando’s “Night of the Monster Men” crossover Batman is back with Tom King at the helm. Along with his return King is bring the Suicide Squad for the beginning of “I am Suicide” story arc. This latest story will feature Batman teaming with the Suicide Squad to hunt down Bane. This is team-up we have not seen before as Batman isn’t known for teaming up with villains. So what has Bane done that is so bad that Batman has resorted to teaming with the Suicide Squad? Let’s find that out with Batman #9.

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Mikel Janin

Colorist: June Chung

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Someone remembers a dream they keep having. In the dream the person lives out his childhood in a cage. As the water begins to rise the boy begins to age. The water forces him to swim to the top of the cage unable to escape as he reaches the age of 21. As he suffers from having to remain afloat the water level lessens until he is able to stand on the ground again, becoming four once again.

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Bane is shown to be the one having the dream and explains it to Psycho Pirate. Bane tells Psycho Pirate that Venom once helped him not have this dream but now that he does not use it anymore the dream has returned. He then reveals that is why he had Psycho Pirate brought to him. This confuses Psycho Pirate.

Bane walks to Psycho Pirate and kneels before him. Bane then asks Psycho Pirate to tell him he is happy and brave. Psycho Pirate puts on his mask and tells Bane what he wants to hear.

At the Wayne Mansion, Bruce tries to calm Claire down as she feels like she is mentally breaking down. Bruce stays with Claire until she calms down and falls asleep.

Bruce goes to talk to Alfred and says he is going to be going out. Alfred wonders if that is what he should be doing at the moment. Bruce ignores this and tells Alfred that he or Duke should be by Claire’s side while he is gone. Before going into the Batcave, Bruce admits that he is accepting Amanda Waller’s proposition. He finishes up by telling Alfred to tell Claire that help is on its way.

Later that night Batman stands outside Arkham Asylum as lightning streaks across the sky.

Inside of Arkham Asylum, Batman, with Commissioner Gordon by his side, requests Arkham let him see the Ventriloquist. Batman informs Ventriloquist that he is putting together a team and wants Ventriloquist on the team. To sweeten the deal Batman says if he does this Ventriloquist will be transferred to a luxury facility. Ventriloquist isn’t sure since Scarface always made his decisions. Batman reminds Ventriloquist he can decide for himself. Ventriloquist smiles and accepts Batman’s offer.

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Click for full-page view

As they walk the asylum Commissioner Gordon wonders how many more inmates Batman is looking to recruit. Batman says that there are three more. Arkham says he did not agree to that. He goes on to say he only agreed to the three members not four. As they walk through the asylum several inmates mock Batman and one of them, a Jane Doe, writes a specific logo on her wall (can already hear Rokk yelling about what that logo is 😉 ).

Batman arrives at Bronze Tiger’s cell where the two instantly begin fighting. The Bronze Tiger gets the upper hand and is able to pin Batman to the ground. Batman and Bronze Tiger smile at one another after the fight.

Batman then goes to Jewelee’s cell. Batman calls Commissioner Gordon to enter the cell. Batman commends Commissioner Gordon for leaking his plan to Jewelee. He then proceeds to punch “Commissioner Gordon” and reveals that he knew it was Punch in-disguise from the beginning. As Punch and Jewelee happily reunite Batman says he knows all about how Punch, after two years in Bane’s prison, was able to escape Santa Prisca.

Batman walks out to Arkham yelling about Punch tricking him. Batman orders Arkham to take him to the last one he is looking to recruit. Arkham vehemently opposes to the person Batman wants to recruit. After a short discussion Batman intimidates Arkham to get him to do what he wants.

Batman meets with his last recruit, who is wearing a mask and straight jacket. As he walks to unlock the inmate Batman talks about how he has been thinking about the two of them lately. Batman explains how he knows that they are the only ones that understand what Batman has to do when it comes to confronting Bane.

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Click for full-page view

Batman unlocks the inmate to reveal it is none other than Catwoman, who has been sentenced to death by lethal injection. End of issue.

The Good: With so many titles currently starring Batman teaming up with various superheroes “I Am Suicide” needed to do something to standout. That is exactly what Tom King and Mikel Janin do with Batman #9.  In doing so they re-introduce several Batman-related characters that established how dangerous each character is without making the reader rely on their backstories.

There are many elements in Batman #9 that reminds me of the Arkham Asylum video game. Specifically, how isolating the entire issue feels. While Tom King gives us three different settings the bulk of Batman #9 takes place in Arkham Asylum. By doing so we get to see how DC Rebirth’s version looks on the inside. Seeing the different levels all have the same white painted walls gives the place an eerie feeling, almost as if something was going to attack Batman at any time.

Adding to the isolating feel was the taunting from the people Batman has locked up. All the taunting makes you as a reader feel uncomfortable not for Batman but for Arkham and “Commissioner Gordon,” who were walking next to him. The formatting of the panels to make it all part of one page was a great use of page space as well.

And while this new story arc is called “I Am Suicide” I enjoyed how this doesn’t involved the current Suicide Squad. With that version of the team currently on course to crossover with the Justice League it was good to focus on other members like Bronze Tiger. This protects the team from being overexposed while still allowing Harley Quinn, who is the “it” character right now at DC, to be a part of this story.

The cast of characters that Batman does assembles fleshes to the concept behind the Suicide Squad being made up of villains given a mission no superhero would be given. Knowing that Batman is collaborating with Amanda Waller to assemble this team also adds to how dangerous Santa Prisca is. Seeing how Batman even went as far as add Catwoman as a member who he did not originally plan to or tell Amanda he would bring along makes you wonder what King has in mind for where Batman and his is going.

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Click for full-page view

Speaking of Catwoman, I was surprised to see her in Arkham Asylum. Given that the character was previously starring in her own series it brings into question how she ended up being captured. Given Catwoman’s reaction to Batman breaking her out makes me think that there is something else going on with her.

The interaction at the end between Batman and Catwoman also highlighted an interesting aspect of Batman. Through his dialogue we get Batman admitting how he isn’t a good person or superhero. Unlike his Justice League colleagues Batman knows he has to break the law to get things done the way he sees it. Hopefully we get to see this aspect of Batman explored deeper as “I Am Suicide” develops.

As for Bane’s part of the story, while we didn’t get a lot of what he is up to in Batman #9 I am interested to see what his full plan is. The backstory that King provides for Bane makes him a much more sympathetic character. His reasoning for using Venom was a nice update to the character. It also reminds readers that even though Bane pumped with Venom is the most iconic version of the character he actually doesn’t normally use it in his appearances.

An interesting note to this issue is the quick look at the mysterious Jane Doe who drew the Legion of Super-Heroes symbol for Batman to see as he walked past her cell. Interestingly enough she looks to be the same character that we Captain Sawyer was interrogating in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 who had a Legion of Super-Heroes ring confiscated. It is odd that we would see this character, who looks to be Saturn Girl, appear in Batman since the LoSH are usually connected with Superman. Why we would suddenly see a teaser for the LoSH in a Batman book is odd but King wouldn’t do it without having long-term plans. Hopefully this all means a rare Batman/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover that re-establishes that team into the DC Universe.

As mentioned early, Mikel Janin did a great job with using a different panel format for this issue as King’s story called for it. Janin’s redesigned Arkham Asylum help add to the isolating sensation Batman #9 had as we saw Batman walking through the facility. He also gave a great amount of impact to the brief bit of action that we saw.

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Click for full-page view

The Bad: Nothing

Overall: Batman #9 is a great start for “I Am Suicide.” Setting the majority of the issue inside of Arkham Asylum helped the execution of Batman assembling the team. Tom King nailed the characterization of all the characters that Batman recruited to be part of his Suicide Squad. Ending the issue with Catwoman’s appearance helped to solidify how dangerous Bane and Santa Prisca are. Add in Mikel Janin’s strong artwork and you have a story that Batman fans should not miss out on reading.